"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, July 20, 2017

25th Amendment remedies

Mostly because I couldn't jam this bit from the Trump interview into the previous post on that interview:

TRUMP: And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting. You know, which is interesting. And I think we’re going to have a great new F.B.I. director.

HABERMAN: Chris Wray.

TRUMP: He’s highly thought of by everybody. I think I did the country a great service with respect to Comey.

The "F.B.I. person" doesn't report directly to the President; not according to the F.B.I.

The FBI Director has answered directly to the attorney general since the 1920s.‬ ‪Under the Omnibus Crime Control Act and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Public Law 90-3351, the Director is appointed by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. On October 15, 1976, in reaction to the extraordinary 48-year term of J. Edgar Hoover, Congress passed Public Law 94-503, limiting the FBI Director to a single term of no longer than 10 years. ‪ 

The man really is just a black hole of knowledge.

"Who's been repeating all that hard stuff to you?"

I actually want to use that tweet as a link.  Click on it, and then read the tweets responding to it.  It soon becomes a hall of mirrors, through no fault of those tweeting, as they try to explain what Trump is saying here.  It really doesn't make sense on any level, and the more you try to figure it out, the less sense it makes.  I mean, Humpty Dumpty's explanation of "Jabberwocky" sounds reasonable alongside those tweets, and there's no doubt in my mind most of the people responding to Ms. Cox mean, like Humpty Dumpty to Alice, to be helpful.

Even Vox wants to focus on Trump's cost estimates for insurance (which it gets wrong; Vox translates his comment into a premium of $12 a month; Trump clearly says he thinks it starts at $12 a year).  His ignorance of cost is not the issue; his ignorance about insurance, which is as complete as that of a 7 year old, is the issue.

The people responding to Ms. Cox tweet aren't Humpty Dumpty, and they are dealing with nonsense.  And there's no way to make nonsense make sense; that's the whole point of nonsense.  But the source of this nonsense is not an eccentric 19th century English poet and mathematician.

Which is kind of the point of the concern.....

The Thin Red Line

What's your point? (asking for a Trump supporter)

“In my opinion, he shared [the British spy dossier] so that I would think he had it out there,” Mr. Trump told The Times.

“As leverage?” reporters Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Mr. Trump said. “In retrospect.”

The extended excerpts of the interview contain more allegations against Comey.

Trump also denied Comey’s sworn testimony about the one-on-one meeting when Comey claimed the President cleared the room.

“Look, you look at his testimony,” Trump suggested. “His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?”

Who you gonna believe?  The fired head of the FBI, or the guy who lies about the size of his inaugural crowds?

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said, the New York Times reports.

Sessions elected to remove himself from all things Russia after it was revealed he failed to disclose multiple meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” Trump said, according to the Times. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?”

“If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair—and that’s a mild word—to the president,” he added.
Fuckin' ethics rules!  Ethics are so unfair to the President!

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia,” the report reads, “Mr. Trump said, ‘I would say yes.’ He would not say what he would do about it. ‘I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.'”

“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” Trump told the Times. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

And I'll fire anybody who says I did!   Meanwhile, in a classic example of "log in your eye/splinter in your brother's":

Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office.

And, of course, conflict means people who don't side with Trump:

I said to Jeff Sessions, "Who's your deputy?"  So his deputy he hardly knew, and that's Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore.  There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any.
There is some puzzlement  over that this morning, but Trump's meaning couldn't be more clear:  A) Sessions didn't "know" Rosenstein, so Rosenstein couldn't be loyal to Trump.  B) only Republicans should investigate Trump, because only Republicans would be loyal to Trump and not have a "conflict of interest."  Which is clearly being defined by Trump as a lack of loyalty to him.

Trump may have to make good on that threat he didn't quite make:

According to the New York Times, investigators are looking into President Donald Trump’s relationship to Germany’s Deutsche Bank over huge loans the bank gave to Trump throughout their two decade-long relationship.

The bank has been in contact with both financial industry regulators and federal investigators regarding “hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit.”

According to the Times, sources close to the bank also say they intend to cooperate with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller in his Russian collusion investigation as well.

I guess he'll have to fire Deutsche Bank, too.

Can we impeach this guy now, before he fires Mueller and pardons himself (I still don't think a self-pardon would stand up in court, but I don't want a Court with Gorsuch on it deciding that issue.)?  Please?  If not for all of the above, then for this?

“Napoleon finished a little bit bad,” the president began. “His one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather?”

Trump then reflected that Hitler made the same mistake in his decision to wage war in Russia during the winter.

“Same thing happened to Hitler,” he said. “Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.”

“But the Russians have great fighters in the cold,” he said. “They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. It’s pretty amazing. So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.”
It's not the ignorance of history that bothers me, it's the shift from Russia to the economy, as if one logically leads to the other.  Or, rather, as if whatever crosses the empty plain of his mind is deserving of expression.

Can this man even walk and chew gum at the same time?

Erase the "Thin Blue Line" before it kills more of us

"We're looking for the person who called '911'."

It appears the bullshit of the "Thin Blue Line" is what killed Justine Diamond.

I had two uncles who were in law enforcement.  If they ever drew their weapons (both retired long ago; one has since passed on) in the line of duty, I never heard about it.  If they ever considered themselves part of the "thin blue line," or the guards atop the wall keeping the barbarians from us civilized Romans, I never heard about that, either.  Knowing both men as I did, I can't believe they ever thought that way.  Nobody did, back in the day.

Now we all know how "dangerous" a cop's job is, and how much we must excuse them when they shoot someone in the back, or a child with a toy, or a woman who approaches a police car she summoned with a phone call.

No, we haven't reached the point of excusing the officer yet, but why do I feel we will?  I mean, why should it be safe to approach a police car in the dark of night in your pajamas?  Police work is dangerous.  They have to shoot first and take risks later.  Isn't that what everybody says now?  So who are the police on this "thin blue line" protecting, exactly.   Seems to me they are standing on the wall and shooting in, at us.  And all of us are guilty of being scary to the cops.

Somehow, much as I despise what Trump's appointees like Jeff Sessions are doing, I'm a little less worried about that Trump is doing to the country.  He'll be gone in four years.  This bullshit about police shooting first and justifying it later has been with us far too long, and yet I see no sign of it going away anytime soon.  It is a matter of Black Lives Matter; but it's also a matter of letting any damned fool with a gun use it with impunity.

This has got to stop.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Poker, anyone?

According to Corey Lewandowski, this is how you close the "deal" on health care in America:

At Wednesday’s lunch, Trump implored senators to pass a bill, talking for several minutes about the “failing Obamacare.”

He told senators that they should not leave for their August recess until they pass a bill, saying that “we’re close,” even though several iterations of the bill in the last week have essentially been dead on arrival.

“Frankly, I don’t think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give our people great health care,” Trump said.

Wasn't his most recent proposal to repeal now, replace later?

But that was before he said:

And now it's:  stay in session through August?

Yup, that's a master dealer at work!  He's real good at keeping the deck shuffled!

Because lack of evidence of a conspiracy

How To Spot an Illegal Voter:  #15 in a series

is probably just evidence there really IS a conspiracy.  See?

While introducing the first public meeting in his “voter fraud” commission on Wednesday, the president said that it was likely that the 44 states were reluctant to hand over all requested information on voters — including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers — because they were trying to conceal wrongdoing.

“If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about?” the president asked rhetorically. “What are they worried about? There’s something, there always is.”

So is the commission supposed to investigate voter fraud?  Not according to its leader, even though he's quite sure you can never prove voter fraud DIDN'T happen, and at the worst possible time!

“Do you believe Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 to 5 million votes because of voter fraud?” MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked Kobach in an interview after the commission’s first meeting. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

“We will probably never know the answer to that question, because even if you could prove that a certain number of votes were cast by ineligible voters, for example, you wouldn’t know how they voted,” he said.

Kobach said the commission was not created to substantiate Trump’s claims.

Tur asked again later: “You think that maybe Hillary Clinton did not win the popular vote?”

“We may never know the answer to that question,” Kobach said.

No secretary of state or board of elections in the country has reported massive voter fraud of illegal voting.

Tur tried a different question later: “So are the votes for Donald Trump that lead him to win the election in doubt as well?”

“Absolutely,” Kobach said. “If there are ineligible voters in an election — people who are non-citizens, people who are felons who shouldn’t be voting according to the laws of that state — you don’t know.”

And if you don't know, it's reasonable to presume it's probably so!  Conspiracies are fun that way!

Now I have to go check for Commies under my bed....

At least dying is not something you have to live with....

So, this is interesting.  Texas, the second most populous state in the union, leads the country in construction related deaths.  Austin, probably the most liberal city in Texas (not really, but it likes to think so), has an ordinance that fast-tracks the permitting process in the city for builders who agree to pay workers "at least $13.50 an hour, follow certain safety standards and offer training and worker’s compensation insurance."  No, that's not what is interesting.

Abbott put on the special session agenda the topic of streamlining the building permitting process in cities (hello, Austin!).  One bill being proposed would block cities like Austin form having ordinances that "burden" contractors with these requirements and impose "wage control" by requiring a higher minimum wage for such jobs.

No, that's not interesting, either.  What's interesting is that the special session is still, nationally and in the state, all about the "bathroom bill." (The Washington Post says that's the "highlight" of the session.  Who will it invite to the post-session ball?)  This bill, which would affect only construction workers, is of no interest to anyone.  Because the safety and livelihood of construction workers is boring.  A bathroom bill that will affect a handful of Texas schoolchildren, however (and it is a HEINOUS bill, and idea) is too titillating to ignore.

Because, you know, who cares about the life and death of construction workers, amirite?

"You are the light of the world!

This sounds like an interesting book, but a very limited one.  I'll accept it as a work of sociology; but it needs the context of church history to really be useful:

Yet Jones raises the possibility that Christianity can only function effectively as a religion in the absence of its dominance in culture, which is to say, as the underdog. Just as Southern evangelicals came to dominance as a response to the perceived diminishing of Christianity in the public sphere among the pluralistic tendencies of the 1950s, so too, Jones suggests, must any effective Christianity of today — one capable of firing up its members — respond against the dominant culture.

He cites several recent examples of thinkers who have advocated just that, from Rod Dreher’s “Benedict option” of focused seclusion to Baptist firebrand Russell Moore’s embrace of Christianity as counter-“cultural.” He writes, "As Christianity seems increasingly strange, and even subversive, to our culture, we have the opportunity to reclaim the freakishness of the gospel, which is what gives it its power in the first place.”

It is that paradox that lies at the heart of The End of White Christian America, and in discussions of Christianity and public life more generally. How can a religion often defined as a religion of outsiders — one whose sacred texts embrace the overturning of the money changers in the Jerusalem temple and celebrate those who leave their families behind to follow a wandering preacher — ever function in a dominant paradigm without losing its distinctive character?

It is that question that Jones’s book leaves us wondering: whether the death of White Christian America, as a cultural construct, is a good thing for Christianity, the religion. For a religion that was once subversive, Jones hints, being countercultural may just be the ideal way to be.

Modern-day ecclesiology has been focussed on that "paradox" for decades, now.  The paradox is not at the heart of a sociological study; it's at the heart of church history.  And the analysis discussed in the Vox article is limited to white Protestantism.  If you want a critique of race and the white Protestant American church you can start with Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," because that was the thesis of that open letter to white Protestant churches.  That the most segregated hour in America was Sunday morning starting at 11:00 a.m. (the Protestant worship hour) was true long before Tara Isabella Burton noticed white churches didn't really do that much in the civil rights movement of 50 years ago.

Christianity will have to become countercultural, even subversive, in order to remain one of the world's great religions.  I really think that is beyond argument.  The Catholic church was once the church of empire.  In the New World, it was an arm of the Spanish king.  The missions in Texas which are now national parks (and deservedly so) were not missionary efforts by Catholic orders; they were explicitly an effort of Spain to control land and people for the benefit of the crown.  The Church may have been interested in souls, but it was the velvet glove around the iron fist of the King.  And that's just an example from recent history, since all our knowledge of the Roman church and European politics tends to default to medieval times.

Never forget it was Lord Acton in the 19th century who warned the Pope, the leaders of Acton's church, that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.  That the church should be in the world but not of the world, is hardly a new idea.

Nor do Protestants get off lightly in this.  Calvin had his Zurich, and Luther his anti-semitism and his love of beer.  They created churches around the cultures they knew, not from whole cloth and based on radical restructuring of human relationships.  Many of the latter kind of experiments occurred in America after Protestantism had pretty well made America safe for Christianity (but not necessarily Roman Catholicism), but all those experiments soon fizzled.  The Christian church has always been a creature of its culture, not a creator of culture.  It is ideally a light in the world, but more commonly just another way for the world to justify itself.  William Bradford wanted to create a Christian community when Europeans here were still colonists.  When enough people had arrived to make Plymouth an outlier rather than the norm, his dream fell to reality.  He had a chance to create a new culture; it didn't work.  It never has.

Many would say Christianity did lose its "distinctive character," and is only now in a position to regain it.  But that way lies arrogance and boundary drawing, leaving me "in" and you "out."  That is not The Way, either.  The great secret of Protestantism was that difference was allowed, and tolerated.  There is not that much difference, in the end, between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, which is why the ecumenical movement flourished for as long as it did (Burton passes lightly over that, as if ecumenism were a weakness, not a strength.  That may be her own view, or that of the book under review; I can't say.  Whatever the source, it's wrong, if only because it presumes that evangelicals who have, as is noted in the review, seen their day (and a short day it was, too) were somehow more "successful".  We have to wonder at a "success" that comes at the end of 500 years of Protestantism and is still only a minor portion of international Christianity, and already showing the limits of its power and appeal after a mere 30 years or so.).  The way forward is not to start declaring a new "true church."  The way forward is to do what Christians have done for millennia:  Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; fear God and obey God's commandments; do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God; clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the sick; entertain angels unaware.

The world will not count this as success.  But the light will be in the world, even if the world knows it not.

The Wind Cries "Mary"

It's even more fun when you match this up to it:

Appearing on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday, Corey Lewandowski was asked about news that the President will have lunch with Republican Senators Wednesday to get the GOP on board with a health care repeal vote next week. He said Senate Republicans are “very, very close” to getting the support they need and said there are just a few “tweaks” that need to happen in order to bring opposing Senators on board.

“Look, it’s been publicly reported that there are probably two Republican U.S. Senators who are going to support the bill, Rand Paul from Kentucky and Sue Collins from Maine. You don’t necessarily need them if you get everybody else and you put (Vice President) Mike Pence in the chair and he breaks the tie,” he said. “I think this bill is going to get done. The President is probably going to close the deal today.”


“I know he is a great dealmaker, I know he is going to do whatever it takes to get this done. I know Mike Lee is someone who wants to support the President on this piece of legislation. I know that other members of the Republican Senate caucus want to support the President on this,” he said. “Look, this is something that the American people have been fighting for and the U.S. Senate has talked about for seven years. It’s now time for action. The President is going to get this bill done. He has campaigned on it, it’s time to move forward.”
This bill no one has been allowed to discuss in public, the details of which have scared off enough Republicans to kill it, which has never been presented to Democrats for scrutiny (and so Democrats are 'blocking' it), is going to "get even better at lunchtime"?  How?  Aging in an oak cask?  Marinating in a secret sauce?  Buried in a mayonnaise jar until noon?

And the wind cries "Mary."  Which is how Trump will close the deal?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Who's up for a land war in Asia?

I mean, why shouldn't the Democrats bail out the GOP?  It only stands to reason!  Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

“Sometime in the near future we will have a vote on repealing Obamacare essentially the same vote we had in 2015,” McConnell told reporters after a private lunch with the Senate GOP caucus.
And after that, the ground war.....

Oh, you know I have to add this:

What a difference 5 years makes....

And there's three....

Well, that didn't take long:

“To repeal there has to be a replacement. There’s enough chaos already, and this would just contribute to it,” Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told reporters, saying she would vote no on any effort to take up legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010 under former President Barack Obama.
Over to you, Mitch!  Meanwhile, Trump has a plan!

“It will be a lot easier and I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you Republicans are not going to own it,” Trump said. “We’ll let Obamacare fail and then Democrats will come to us and say ‘How do we fix it?’”


“The way I look at it is, in ’18 we’re going to have to get more people elected. We have to go out and we have to get more people elected that are Republican. And we have to probably pull in those people, those few people that voted against it. I don’t know. They’re going to have to explain why they did and I’m sure they have very fine reasons, but we have to get more Republicans elected because we have to get it done,” he said.
And the way to get more Republicans elected is to screw 1/6th of the economy right into the ground and then disavow any responsibility for controlling all three branches of government!  Because they only did it because they don't have enough control!  It's genius, I tells ya!  And obviously, as all the pundits will no doubt say, Mitch McConnell has a cunning plan to make this all happen!

It's the end of the world as we know it, and Trump feels fine!  No, really, he does!

“We had no Democrat support,” he said. “[T]he vote would have been, if you look at it, 48-4. That’s a pretty impressive vote by any standard.”

I'm guessing that's the New Math I learned in elementary school.  Never did understand it, really.....(and, because I'm all about the schadenfreude, more responses to Trump here.)

And they're back!

You are going to be treated to articles like this about the upcoming Texas special session.  Here's the problem with those articles:  they don't understand the Texas Constitution at all.

Everyone remembers 4 years ago, when Wendy Davis tied up the Texas Senate with a filibuster that ran out the clock on the legislative session.  Well, that was a "special session," one that can only last 30 days (the regular session is only 180 days, every two years).  Ms. Davis literally ran out the clock, so the Senate vote she blocked occurred after midnight on the final day, and was null and void.

In the next special session, they got right on that bill and it was passed in plenty of time.  If I recall correctly, that special session ended quickly.  It was a very public defeat for the GOP, and the Governor at the time (Rick Perry) was having none of that.  But it was possible because special sessions take time to gin up and time to get around to things, and Wendy Davis made use of that feature and the GOP's confidence they could do whatever they wanted, to gum up the works.

In the last regular session this year Joe Strauss, the Speaker of the Texas House, played the Wendy Davis role by simply never letting Dan Patrick's "Bathroom bill" get to the floor of the House for a vote.  Now a Texas Senator has already filed that bill for consideration in the special session which begin tomorrow (and two bills have been filed in the House).  Problem is, the Lege can only consider what's on the agenda set by the Governor, and first on his list is a provision under Texas law that requires all Texas agencies to be re-approved periodically, or automatically go out of business.  It's called a "sunset provision," and in the last session it shut down the Texas Board of Medical Examiners (I think they have to close in September, but no matter).

Abbott called the session first and foremost to keep the TBME in business.  Rather embarrassing to lose an agency like that, even in Texas.  Getting that done is a no-brainer; but getting it done won't occur on the first day of the session.  The Lege has to start over in a special session, and that means bills have to be filed anew, and business conducted as if it hadn't been finished just 6 weeks ago.  This is why, even in the second special session after Wendy Davis' victory, the abortion bill she opposed was passed in the middle of that session, not on the first day.

Abbott has put 19 items on the agenda, with the bill authorizing the TBME as #1.  His second priority (he doesn't really get a choice, but he's made impotent threatening noises about it) is property tax reform.  You'll notice we aren't getting close to the "bathroom bill."  And Democrats are making noises about what they want the session to handle (and may yet leave Austin to deny a quorum if they have to, to block the bathroom bill).  Oh, and Joe Strauss is still against it, and has no reason to let it get to the House floor in July, any more than he did in the regular session.

Would Abbott call another session just to get Patrick's baby passed?  Very unlikely.  He stuck it in a laundry list of things to appease Patrick's supporters, but Abbott doesn't really seem interested in getting it on his desk.  (The governor sets the agenda for special sessions; nothing not on the agenda can be considered by either chamber.)

So, sure, it could happen; but it isn't really likely to.  Once the first item on the agenda is done, there won't be a lot of time left to do too many other items, and there will be a scramble in the last weeks (as there is during the regular session) to get a lot of bills passed.  Both sides want to play the "tweak the agenda" game, for one thing, but if they can't get the governor to smile on their preferred bill, they may not be in a mood to compromise on another bill.

I expect acrimony, not cooperation.   I base that on news reports like this:

Lawmakers are back in Austin in large part because of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who forced the special session by holding hostage the continuation of a handful of state agencies after legislation he deemed a priority — including bathroom restrictions based on "biological sex" — failed to pass during the regular session that wrapped up in May. Those proposals all died in the Texas House where Speaker Joe Straus was steadfast in his opposition to such legislation.

It was clear ahead of Tuesday that the fault lines between legislative leaders were not only still in place but had become more prominent.

Straus has, in fact, upped the ante in the debate, adding to his economic concerns (and IBM has weighed in against the bill now) worries that it could lead even one transgender child (because the only bathrooms the State can really control this way are in public schools) to commit suicide.  This is Straus drawing a line in the sand:

“The House takes every issue on the governor's agenda seriously and will focus on doing what's best for the people of Texas,” he said in the statement. “We will look at each issue closely and carefully consider how these ideas would affect our economy and the lives of the people we represent.”
That's Straus' way of telling Patrick to get stuffed.

And, looking in "live" as I write, there are already concerns the Dems could screw this session:

The "sunset legislation" is saving the TBME, the first item on the agenda.  But already the GOP is afraid the Dems might kill a quorum and end the session prematurely, forcing Abbott to call another one, or just back down and give up  The GOP, in other words, is worried.

I expect the TBME will be saved, and after that not much else will get done.  If it does, the bathroom bill will not be at the top of the list, not ahead of something like property tax reform.  Besides, the Democrats could still decamp, recalling the halcyon days of the "killer bees."

And this time there's no one in the U.S. House to get federal law enforcement to hunt 'em down.....

Does he think the Capitol building is in the Philippines?

And oh, by the way:

Republican Senators Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito said on Tuesday they will not vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement healthcare plan.

“My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians,” Capito said in a statement. Collins made her comments to reporters at the Capitol. 
One more Senator announcing something similar, and Mitch McConnell can kiss even partial repeal goodbye, too.

Morning after hangover

Indeed!  Why should Democrats get a vote at all!  Parliamentary system, bitchez!

All the wise heads are muttering into their prematurely gray beards on the intertoobs that Mitch McConnell can still pull it off, can still repeal and replace Obamacare, because Mitch McConnell!  What they cannot explain is how he will pull off this legislative miracle:

The idea has a certain logic. Republicans can quickly make good on their promise to repeal Obamacare and then get to the hard work of actually figuring out what should come next.

And it has precedent. Congress passed a clean Obamacare repeal bill in 2015, which President Obama quickly vetoed. Senators could presumably return to that bill and pass it a second time — although this time, they’d expect Trump to turn the bill into law.

But here’s the problem: In practice, the act of repealing Obamacare, even with a two-year delay for a replacement, would set off a catastrophic reaction across the health care system. A successful repeal vote would drive insurers out of Obamacare’s exchanges, leading to collapsing marketplaces across the country, and Republicans would bear all the blame.
The idea has "a certain logic" if you ignore the fact that such an idea has to go through the legislative process.  It was considered and rejected by the GOP Senate earlier this year (January, to be precise), and it holds no incentive for those concerned about Medicaid cuts (part of Sen. Moran's reason to jump ship and scuttle McConnell's bill).  It's also useless to McConnell, because it would create chaos in the insurance markets, and as I said before, leave the explosion until after the 2018 elections.  That's supposed to help McConnell, but in the "what have you done for me lately?" world of U.S. politics, it's far too little far too late.  And did I mention the chaos in the insurance markets repeal would unleash?  Even Ted Cruz wouldn't vote for that.

Matt Yglesias tells us that:

The real fate of American health care lies with five Republicans — Dean Heller (R-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — whose behavior since McConnell rolled out BCRA 2.0 has been strange.
Well, sure; except the bill died on the announcements of the guy from Kansas and the guy from Utah.  Moderates had nothing to do with it.  Dylan Scott at least gets that much right:

Conservatives wanted to unwind as much of Obamacare as they could, whatever the consequences. Moderates were skittish about passing a plan that would lead to millions of people losing health coverage they gained under Obamacare, openly advocating to keep some of the most popular provisions of the 2010 health care law. The two ends of the ideological spectrum also struggled to agree on how deeply to cut Medicaid, both by ending Obamacare’s expansion and by putting a hard spending cap on the whole program. 

Josh Marshall last night was still hedging his bets, going with the "if frogs had wings" defense beloved of political commentators who hate being proven solidly wrong:

In most respects, this is no different from what Democrats hoped would be a truism about major new programs. Once people get access to new benefits they’re really hard to take away, especially when tens of millions of people have them. Of course, none of this was foreordained and it’s far from guaranteed even now. It is quite possible that McConnell will still be able to pass a Trumpcare bill. 

Of course, it's impossible now that McConnell will be able to pass a Trumpcare bill, because he's giving up on that.  Even McConnell knows when he's licked, even if pundits refuse to accept what's in front of their eyes.  And what's in front of their eyes is a legislative process nobody wants to pay attention to.

The vote that has now preemptively failed was a vote to take up the House bill and debate it.  Without 50 votes to do that, McConnell can't move anything through the Senate.  McConnell has already announced (though nobody but Jim Newell noticed it) a vote on what Newell labels a "test run" bill:

The "first amendment" McConnell is referring to is the "test run" bill that the House and Senate each passed in 2015 to see how much of Obamacare they could eliminate under reconciliation. (Coincidentally, while the test run bill eliminates as much of Obamacare's taxes and spending as possible, it does not touch any of the market regulations that so arouse conservatives' ire.)
My understanding of reconciliation is that it can't be used to affect the market regulations Newell mentions there, so all it can do is eliminate taxes and spending (which affects the budget, and so can be handled with only 50 votes in the Senate).  As Newell points out:

That bill, though, was passed when House and Senate Republicans knew that President Obama would veto it, and they wouldn't have to live with its consequences. When the Congressional Budget Office, at Democrats' request, rescored the 2015 legislation earlier this year, they found that it would increase the uninsured ranks by 32 million and double premiums over 10 years. It will be... quite difficult to pass that. McConnell may just be offering a sacrifice to conservatives (and the president). 
Yes, the hard-core crazies (like the Sen. from Oklahoma who was dining with Trump last night when news came the bill was dead in the Senate) want to just repeal Obamacare.  As I say, did Ted Cruz offer an amendment to the Senate bill in order to kill it, or to save it?  Is he going to stand fast for straight up repeal and chaos in the marketplace? Is he that sure he'll win in 2018?  Probably not.

And if the GOP Senate can't repeal all of Obamacare through reconciliation, it won't really be "repeal," will it?  The pundits and pooh-bahs may not know that, but the Senators do.  McConnell is no more likely to repeal Obamacare with just 50 votes, than he is to get his bill passed.   Does this sound like a Senator who's going to decide to just burn it all down, sow dragon's teeth, and reap the whirlwind?

“There are serious problems with Obamacare, and my goal remains what it has been for a long time: to repeal and replace it. This closed-door process has yielded the BCRA, which fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare’s rising costs. For the same reasons I could not support the previous version of this bill, I cannot support this one.

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy. Furthermore, if we leave the federal government in control of everyday healthcare decisions, it is more likely that our healthcare system will devolve into a single-payer system, which would require a massive federal spending increase. We must now start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans.”

McConnell's bill was an act of severe moderation compared to simple repeal now, replace whenever.  How he is going to make that palatable to 50 Senators, when it will only be partial repeal at best, anyway, is simply beyond me.

Adding:  there is a very interesting analysis here, in tweets, about McConnell's rise to power and his failure on this bill.  This final tweet sums it up (the rest are worth reading for details supporting the argument):

As I said:  sow dragon's teeth, reap the whirlwind.  The pursuit of power for its own sake inevitably ends with finding out you haven't grasped power; it has grasped you.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Has Anybody Told the President?

The GOP is working under reconciliation rules, so they can replace Obamacare with only 50 votes.  Repeal isn't available under those rules:

Pretty clearly, Trump doesn't understand that.  Then again, McConnell can't even get 50 votes to pass his healthcare bill, so it doesn't matter.  It's simply not going to happen.

The sad/funny thing is Trump thinks tweeting is Presidential legislative action.  Well, it's not funny or sad; it's pathetic.

“We must now start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans,”[Sen. Jerry] Moran said in a statement.

No, no!  We just need to put it on Twitter!

Truly pathetic.

Who knew insurance was so complicated?

Glad there's nothing important going on!

Can we just agree Brit Hume is an idiot?

Speaking with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace and Obamacare architect Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Hume called coverage of those with pre-exisiting conditions, not a “triumph” but problematic, like insuring a driver who has a car wreck in their past.

“The triumph of Obamacare is this coverage for pre-existing conditions, which basically defeats the whole idea of insurance,” Hume suggested. “Which is, for example, in the automobile insurance market, if you could wait until you had a wreck and then buy insurance and have the repairs covered, that’s comparable to what we’re doing here.”

Emanuel attempted to interject saying, “But Brit, if I have cancer –,” only to be cut off by the Fox personality.

“Hold on, let me finish. Can I please finish?” Hume exclaimed. “The idea of insurance is that you purchase it to guard against risks and things that may occur in the future. It’s not that you purchase the coverage after you are already sick. Once that idea is gone, Obamacare essential remains.”

Given a chance to speak, Emanuel attempted to explain the dilemma to Hume.

“If I have cancer through no fault of my own, I didn’t hit a car, I need to have insurance to cover me. This bill does nothing for those people,” he lectured. “It only makes the price of their insurance ever higher. Cancer patients and patients with multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease get completely written out of coverage by this bill.”

Genetics, man; if they're predisposed to cancer or Alzheimer's, they don't deserve coverage.  That defeats the idea of insurance; everybody knows that.  Right?  'Cause the idea of insurance is to never pay for anything, right?

Maybe Mr. Hume is related to an insurance company employee.

As a person who, in 46 years of driving has had 3 accidents, and yet still has insurance coverage (which has returned to normal; it jumped up after the second wreck, but has subsided again), I wish to tell Mr. Hume he doesn't understand insurance at all.

Car insurance is now required in almost every state (I hate to overstate that, so I qualify it), if you want to own a car.  Health insurance used to be something that covered hospitalization (I'm old enough to remember going to the doctor as an adult and not using my insurance to cover my visits.  Indeed, I remember when my doctor had to hire another doctor to help pay for the staff he had to hire to handle all the insurance paperwork as insurance began to take over healthcare.  Now try going to the doctor without it.  I used to pay all my medical bills myself.  I wouldn't want to try that now.).  Health insurance is now more necessary than car insurance (which is really just to make sure I have a company to pay your company for the damages I cause to you).  And neither is revoked if you use it, or is problematic if you have a "pre-existing" condition like driving enough you raise the odds you'll have a wreck.

These things that pass for knowledge I don't understand.....

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Because Hillary Clinton, that's why!


Isn't that obviously the answer?

“I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” [Trump lawyer Jay] Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to Trump’s protection detail as the Republican candidate. “The President had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”

Trump Jr. arranged the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after he was promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian state effort to aid his father’s campaign.

Mason Brayman, a spokesman for the Secret Service, told Reuters in a statement that the Secret Service was not protecting Trump Jr. in June 2016 when he attended the meeting.

“Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time,” Brayman said.
Clearly the Secret Service should have protected the President from this meeting he says he didn't know about and from the people who attended who he says weren't important.

And they should have protected Trump, Jr. from his own stupidity! (not that they would do that even now.)

Deep state!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Meanwhile, back in reality....

Mark Shields and David Brooks sum up the Trump Presidency so far:

JUDY WOODRUFF:   The Donald Trump Jr. story. We have now learned that he had a meeting a year ago, Trump Tower, with a lawyer who had some connection to the Russian government. How does this change our understanding of the Russia collusion allegation?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think it’s fair to say, Judy, that the White House lost any benefit of the doubt that it could claim on this story.

The shoes continue to drop, like it’s a Zappos warehouse or Imelda Marcos’ closet. I mean, it just — each time, they’re amending their story, they’re appending or extending their story.

And so I just think the fact that there were such denials and accusations of a Democratic plot, all of those are gone, and they stand naked and they stand exposed as shams.

I mean, they were actively engaged, at least welcoming Russian involvement in the 2016 election, in behalf of Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, does this change your assessment of what may have been going on?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Yes.

My colleague Ross Douthat wrote that any time you give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, he always lets you down.

And that’s true. That’s true for his business clients and it’s true for those of us who thought, they couldn’t have been some stupid, to walk right into collusion with the Russian meetings.

And yet they were not only that stupid, but I think what is striking to me is the complete amorality of it, that Donald Trump Jr. gets an e-mail saying the Russian government is offering you this, and he says, “I love it.”

And it reminded me so much of some of the e-mails that came out of the Jack Abramoff scandal, that came out of the financial crisis scandal, where they’re just — they’re like frat boys who are gleefully going against the law and are going against all morality. And they’re not even overcoming any scruples to do this.

They’re just having fun with it. And then, in the days since, we have had on — Donald Jr. on Sean Hannity’s show, again, I did nothing wrong, just incapable of seeing that there might have been something wrong about colluding with a foreign power who is hostile with you.

And then Donald Trump himself saying, he’s a wonderful guy, again, not seeing anything wrong, and then even last day lying about how many people were in the meeting, a completely inconsequential lie.

And so we’re trapped in the zone just beyond any ethical scruple, where it’s all about winning.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Beyond any ethical scruple, Mark, is that where we are?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I think it’s fair to say that Donald Trump was born without the embarrassment gene or the moral reservation gene.

He just — he doesn’t — when he says that most people would take that meeting, Judy, I mean, this is not — I have been around for a while, and been to the Dallas Fair twice, and all the rest of it. People wouldn’t do that.

In 2000, Al Gore’s campaign got ahold of, was delivered George Bush’s briefing book. They turned it over to the FBI. That’s what you do when you’re honorable in politics.

This isn’t a meeting with a foreign power. This isn’t Canada or the Swiss Family Robinson. This is Russia. This is a country that has supported, propped up the worst of anti-democratic regimes in the Middle East, that has practiced — mistreated its own press, mistreated its own civil society, and economic intimidation of its neighbors, including invasion of its neighbors.

I mean, this is the one country on the face of the earth with the capacity to obliterate the United States. This is serious stuff. And to do it so casually and, as David said, without moral reservation, is — I guess it should be stunning, but, sadly, it isn’t.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But some of the Trump team, David, in their response to this are sounding almost offended that people would even think that they were doing something wrong.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, they just don’t — they don’t get it.

My pal Mike Gerson had a good line in his column today. If you make losing a sin, you make cheating a sacrament. And that is true. If it’s all win-loss, then you do whatever you can to win and to make money and to beat the deal.

And so I do think you have entered the zone where they don’t quite see what they have done wrong. But cheating with a foreign company — country is — as Mark keeps saying, is a grave sin.

And then there’s just the scandal management of it, of letting it drip out, letting it drip out today and today and today. And then there is almost just a cluelessness like a color blindness about how the rest of the world is going to go react to this.

And this has been a leitmotif for the Trump administration.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It is the case, Mark, that there was one version we heard over the weekend, and then, on Monday, there was a little bit more, and then Tuesday, Wednesday, then today still another.

MARK SHIELDS: Mm-hmm. No, it is, Judy.

And I don’t know what to think. I mean, drip, drip, drip, comes a downpour at some point. How about the disparaging of the United States intelligence agencies and professionals by President Trump, candidate Trump and now President Trump, whether Russia — you know, I can’t be sure Russia was involved. Yes, probably, but not for sure.

I mean, here they are, the Trump Tower with the people, their names approved on the visitors list for the meeting in the Trump Tower, and pretending they didn’t know it.

So, no, it’s — David is right. In a management sense, it’s just been incredible, Judy. Apparently, it’s hit the president or someone has gotten to the president, because his statement about his son was so sort of homogenized, he’s a quality person.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He said he’s a good boy.

MARK SHIELDS: Good boy, and praised him for his transparency, which is a little bit like, as I’m about to be indicted for tax evasion, say, well, I want to make something clear. I failed to pay my taxes.

DAVID BROOKS: It does open up a bunch of questions, like what were the — this — as the intelligence experts keep saying, this looked like a Russian feeler operation. They just wanted to see what kind of reaction they could get from Donald Jr.

And if they — how do they respond to the signal? And so what else did they do? There must have been other things they did.

The second, was it connected? Donald Trump, as others have cited, gave a speech in which he said, we’re about to have a big set of revelations about Hillary Clinton. Did that flow out of this meeting? And what was the timing of that? Who else was in this meeting? What actually was said in the meeting?

We still really — we have some testimonies, but what documents were brought to the meeting? It means there’s another several weeks of questions. And it gives Bob Mueller a new channel to walk down. It’s just expanding.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The special counsel.


MARK SHIELDS: I would just say one thing about Mr. Mueller.

He has an advantage and a power that nobody else, that none of us in the press has. He has the power of subpoena. And he has the power of a grand jury. And he has the alternative of indictment for perjury.

So, you just can’t keep changing these stories. I mean, Jared Kushner now has amended, as John Yang pointed out at the beginning of the show, point, his number of contacts with foreign individuals and interests, 100. Three times, he’s now had to do so.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Added names.

MARK SHIELDS: And it raises the question, who leaked these e-mails on Donald Trump — I mean, on Donald Trump Jr.?

Did they — is there mistrust? There is distrust, I know, in the White House whether it was Kushner or Kushner’s people, saying that we had to get this out.
No mention of the transparency of the Trump Administration extending to the big, beautiful wall that Mexico is going to pay for, but why should there be any distrust over that issue?

And before we hear from too many Republicans saying Russia has become an "obsession"* and the only person concerned about it is Hillary Clinton, let's set the record straight (sad that we have to):

“We should not normalize this,” [Former GOP Representative and retired FBI agent Mike] Rogers told CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield. Russia is “a hostile intelligence service to the United States. Most people know that. If the Russian government calls and says, ‘Hey, we have information on your opponent,’ the first reaction should not be and we should not normalize this behavior. Opposition research is a real thing and it happens in politics every day.”

However, he said, “this is very different and we should not normalize it.”

Cabrera asked if the Trump family’s relative inexperience in politics and naïvete should be considered when examining their handling of the Russian contact.

“Listen, I don’t buy that argument as a former FBI agent. i’m not buying it. if you’ve been in the business world and you understand how all that works, a foreign government contacts you and says I have information, that should have sent up a red flag all day long.”
The George Costanza defense ("Was that wrong?") will serve the Trump's well, I'm sure.  They can just settle the criminal cases, right?  I mean, if losing is a sin, then cheating is a sacrament, and Donald Trump is the President, and you're not, right?

“I’m an economist, not a lawyer, but what you got to do is just name the statute that’s been violated. We’re a nation under laws, not under men,” Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) said in an appearance on CNN. “So if there’s proof that a statute’s been violated, then there is an issue. If there’s not, I think a couple of issues have gotten conflated.”

I think 52 USC 30121 is what you're looking for.  In the meantime, I'd refer all such legal questions to Robert Mueller; he seems quite sure to answer them at some point in the future.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tangling the Web

Bastille Day celebration in the rear-view mirror, gotta keep that excited-by-military-parade feeling alive and get back to Jersey to ogle some more women who are in great shape!  Yow-zah!!!

Honestly, I almost wish I still had cable, so I could watch FoxNews:

“Jared Kushner failed to report more than 100 foreign contacts on his security clearance form,” she pointed out. “If I had done that when I worked at the CIA or the State Department, I would have been fired. So this story isn’t just bad because there’s not another side out there, their story keeps changing.”

Meghan McCain, meanwhile, pointed out that her own brothers would have been court martialed if they had taken a meeting with a Russian government lawyer during her father’s 2008 presidential campaign. She also said it’s time for the Trump White House to really come clean about its interactions with the Russians.

“If there is a God in Heaven, I beg the White House to come out with everything,” she said. “Every shot of vodka you’ve taken for any Russians.”

“Why is that so hard?” Faulkner responded.

It's pretty damned clear by now that being in the Trump criminal clan means never having to say "I'm guilty."  Anyone not married to the President's daughter would not get a do-over to add 100 foreign contacts to your security form and a GOP House committee to stand behind you.  And the answer to the question Faulkner asked is pretty clear, too:  because if they really came clean, "innocent" would no longer be a term anyone could use about this White House.  Even Chris Wallace is throwing out the benefit of the doubt:

“It’s one more case where there is a new revelation from the White House and Donald Trump Jr., and other people don’t put out themselves and it ends up coming out from the news media,” Wallace explained.

“I think this is the biggest problem here,” Wallace stated. “I think there is very little legal jeopardy for Donald Trump, Jr., but there’s a huge problem with the credibility of the White House because they kept saying there is no collusion, there have been no contacts, this is all a hoax, it is all fake news.”
I think there is a great deal of legal jeopardy myself, else why be so deliberately stupid?  What, the Watergate coverup was because Nixon knew he'd done nothing criminally wrong?  And I'm beginning to think Shep Smith is going to lose his job soon:

“Who else was in the meeting?” Smith asked. “The meeting with the lawyer reported to have Russian information on Hillary Clinton? The first son, the first son-in-law, the Russian lawyer, the campaign manager, an interpreter and brand new today, a Russian-American lobbyist that served in a spy unit of the Soviet military. He was there, too. Nobody mentioned that.”

“Emails this week showed Donald Trump Jr. met with the lawyer after a middleman told him that she was a Russian government official who had information that was part of Russia’s support for Donald Trump,” Smith continued. “Trump Jr.’s lawyers confirmed another person was at the meeting and now we know the person is a former counterintelligence officer.”

“President Trump this week praised his son for being open and for being transparent,” Smith said, playing a clip of Trump Jr. telling Fox News host Sean Hannity there’s nothing else to the meeting.

“There isn’t anything else there,” a sarcastic Smith said.

“Trump Jr. did release the emails between himself and that middle man,” Smith said, referencing Trump Jr.’s claim of transparency. “The president’s son posted them to Twitter just minutes before the New York Times was going to publish details from that same message. The New York Times had told him so, that’s when he released him. When the Times first broke the story, Trump Jr. called it a ‘short introductory meeting’ … That was the first statement.”

“The next day, Donald Trump admitted acquaintance told him the individual he was meeting might have information helpful to the campaign,” he continued. “Those emails show he actually told the middle man, ‘I love it!’ When the British publicist told him the Russian lawyer was a Russian government attorney who had dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,” Smith said.

“Jared Kushner filled out his form … very important stuff,” Smith said. “You can go to prison for messing it up intentionally. He went back and added 100 names and places. None of these people made it. Still not, we’re still not clean on this, Chris. If there’s nothing there and that’s what they tell us, they tell us there’s nothing to this and nothing came of it, a nothing burger, it wasn’t memorable. Didn’t tell you about it because it wasn’t anything, so I didn’t even remember it with a Russian interpreter in the room at Trump Tower. If all of that, why all of these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie?”

Back to JK again; and yes, "Chris" is Chris Wallace, and Shep is right:  we're still not clean on this.  There's not even an appearance of propriety on that issue:  JK gets a do-over because he's JK.  And lie after lie after lie after finally takes its toll.

*Turns out the U.S. Women's Open is at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ.  Which, oddly enough, Trump has time to attend all weekend:

“I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” Trump, 69, tells ITK. "I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off.”

I guess JK is sitting in the Big Chair for the next few days.

We need a Constitutional amendment for a Presidential do-over

This will be in the same universe where money is still pouring into NATO because Trump demanded it (he said it again in Warsaw, a week ago):

“One of the things you need with the wall is transparency,” said Trump. “You have to be able to see through it in other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side.”

Why see what's on the other side?

“As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.”

Seriously.  This man is in charge of the country.  I think I'd rather have Homer Simpson in charge.

Actually, I remember reading a Theodore Sturgeon short story where a businessman discovers the "nothing" between perforations on a roll of toilet paper is the strongest substance in the universe, and proceeds to make millions marketing the stuff (in the story, it works.  Besides, have you ever tried to neatly tear a perforated roll of paper?).  It was, of course, a perfectly transparent substance, but also the strongest material ever known.  Trump realizes there are swathes of the border where a wall can't be built (private property in Texas, the Big Bend National Park, Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico), so he'll claim the wall is "transparent" there, and thus satisfy his minions that the border is secure even though the wall is Swiss cheese.

I am quite certain he thinks that will work.....

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Can't tell the players without a program!

Now it's so "inside baseball" it's under the stitches?

“Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard, where they have information and you take information,” Trump said during a joint press conference at the Élysée Palace with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump said “zero happened” as a result of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which he claimed was “a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken”
I thought the defense was they were all newbies and rookies and had no idea that what they were doing was wrong?  Now we're back to "everybody does it, so it can't be wrong?"

(and yes, the meeting itself is the problem, not any "results" of the meeting, which we are now told are zero, even though we were originally told there was never a meeting, and that Trump never knew about a meeting.  

On Wednesday afternoon, Trump told Reuters that “No. That I didn’t know. Until a couple of days ago, when I heard about this. No I didn’t know about that,” referring to the meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

Trump changed his tune later in the day, when he told reporters on Air Force One: “In fact maybe it was mentioned at some point,” referring to the meeting. (Reporters on the plane initially thought the conversation was off-the-record, but the President said otherwise on Thursday.)
So the shelf life of "zero happened" is soon going to turn into "well, yeah, something happened, but (a) "they did it, too!" (i.e., the Democrats), or (b) "Everybody's doing it!," which is just a variant on (a) when you can't attach it to the Hillary.

It's like waking up to find out reality has turned into a Moebius strip, with only one surface; and you have to struggle to stay on that surface when it forces you to go upside down....

President of the School Yard

Trump has two defensive positions for any charge brought against him.  His favorite is to point the finger at someone else, usually Hillary Clinton.  That's the "But he/she did it, too!" defense.  So Trump's campaign coordinated (forget "colluded") with the Russian government?  Well, Hillary colluded with the government of Ukraine!   Except, of course, she didn't; at all.  And the claim that she did doesn't mitigate the actions of the Trump campaign.  Which leads to the second defense, the one he's now rolled out for Jr.'s e-mails:  "Everybody else was (would be) doing it!"

So, why are you picking on him?  Somebody else did it, and you didn't pick on them!  Or, if that doesn't work or directly apply, then everybody else would do it, too!  The defense is basically the same:  if everybody else does it, then you can't say it's wrong for Trump to do it, because if everybody's wrong then nobody's wrong.

It's the argument of a petulant child screaming 'No fair!'  Except it's being advanced by a 71 year old man who is the President of the United States.


'Cause out here in the West, podner, a man's word is his bond:

In Wednesday's interview, Trump also said he directly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin if he was involved in what U.S. intelligence says was Russian meddling in the presidential campaign and that Putin had insisted he was not.

Trump said he spent the first 20 or 25 minutes of his more than two-hour meeting with Putin last Friday in Germany on the election meddling subject.

"I said, did you do it? And he said no, I did not. Absolutely not. I then asked him a second time in a totally different way. He said absolutely not," Trump said.

Well, I guess that about wraps that up.  Now, about Hillary and Ukraine......

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"They'll think that white hood's all they need...."

"I was a child in the Sixties...."

William F. Buckley, 1957:

The central question that emerges-and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal-is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes -the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage. The British believe they do, and acted accordingly, in Kenya, where the choice was dramatically one between civilization and barbarism, and elsewhere; the South, where the conflict is by no means dramatic, as in Kenya, nevertheless perceives important qualitative differences between its culture and the Negroes', and intends to assert its own.

Sam Harris, 2017:

“I think many people will feel, what is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society?” he added. “It seems perfectly rational to say, we don’t want any more.”

“We should profile Muslims or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”

“I think many people will feel, what is the f**king point of having more Muslims in your society? It seems perfectly rational to say, we don’t want any more. We have enough. And certainly increasing the percentage is not a help to anyone who loves freedom of speech and anything else, any of the other liberal values.”

“It’s not worth the trouble,” Harris continued. “And if we can figure out some way to keep the number of Muslims down in any society, whether we’re honest about this or whether we do this covertly. Clearly it’s rational to want to do this.”

“This is where someone like Robert Spencer would say amen, I would presume,” he added, referring positively to a far-right anti-Muslim extremist who was banned from traveling to the U.K. due to comments the British government said incite violence.

“This is not an expression of xenophobia,” Harris insisted. “This is an expression of the implication of statistics and the fact that it’s only rational not to want to live in a world that looks more and more like Jerusalem at the height of the Intifada.”

And that doesn't even touch on Harris' support for the idea that people from Africa are intellectually inferior to Europeans as a matter of "science".  Which is precisely what Buckley is saying, 60 years ago.

I really can't so much as slip a piece of paper between them.

Me? Or your lyin' eyes?

Oh, sure:

And of course, while he's too busy to watch T.V. news, he's not too busy to search reddit for videos he can post:

And what prompted that first tweet?

He really is an incredibly incompetent liar.